I attribute much of my savings account to being super mindful of every purchase I make. It’s often the small, reoccurring expenses that you give little thought to that can add up and eat away at your paycheck. I would personally much rather save on the small stuff so that I can invest my money in the more important (or prettier) things. The good news is, you don’t have to feel like you’re sacrificing everything good and sacred in life to save your money. Here are some small ways to save that can make a big difference on your bottom line.
1. Make sure you enroll in a 401(k): If your employer offers a matching program for your retirement fund, even adding small amounts every month can add up. Your contributions could also help in lowering your taxes, which means your saving even more (by saving more). Confused? You’ll be even more confused when you’re old and smelly and have no money.
2. Look into raising your car insurance deductible: Raising your deductible from $250 to $1,000 can save 15% or more off your premium. This is the case for most kinds of insurance, so do a check on what kind of coverage you’re paying for and how you could lower your monthly payments.
3. Pay off credit card debt: Even just carrying a $1,000 balance at 18% (which is average) means you’re spending $180 every year just on interest that you likely could find a much better use for. Pay off your highest interest cards first, and make this a priority before everything else (like your chipped nails. Save the money and paint them yourself).
4. Save on energy costs: Don’t keep your house an icebox in the summer or a sauna in the winter. A programmable thermostat can help you to get your energy costs down by being able to better control those few degrees that make a difference. Prices start around $50, but you could cut your heating-and-cooling bill by 10-20%.
5. Cable/Phone/Internet: If you need phone, internet and cable at your house, packaging them all from one provider is a great way to save money. I personally cancelled cable all together, cancelled my home phone and lowered my internet to basic service (never noticed a difference from the more expensive high speed).
6. Rewards credit cards: Many cards now offer cash back on certain purchases or triple points for things like travel or restaurants. Do your research and get a card that will get you the best kickbacks. I personally have the Chase sapphire preferred – and since I’ve set up auto payments for all of my bills on this card, the points have saved me hundreds of dollars on flights.
7. Stop smoking already: Do you not have enough reasons to kick this gross habit? Someone who smokes a pack a day will spend $2,200.95 annually. Plus the costs of medical bills down the line could add up to thousands more. Plus you’re slowly killing yourself. Smoking isn’t cool anymore if you didn’t get the memo.
8. Pack a lunch: This is a small expense that we end up treating ourselves to daily during work, and it really ads up. Generally you can’t get a lunch for less than $10. This means $50/week and $200/month, and doesn’t even include the lattes and other snacks you’re paying for to get you through the day. As often as you’re able, bring some leftovers to work and put that money towards a greater savings goal.
9. Negotiate your rate: Instead of paying 18% on your credit card, call your credit card company and ask for a lower rate (Here’s how). If you have good credit, your lender might consider it – and if you can provide examples of offers you’ve gotten from other companies (like those tempting 0% offers) that helps even more. If you HAVE to carry debt, every percentage lower helps.
10. Change your calling plan. Make sure you’re using all of the features that you’re paying for (like unlimited text and data). If you think you can limit the usage of your cell, consider switching to a pre-paid phone plan.
11. Shop online: I find that prices are almost always cheaper online, plus many retailers offer special discounts to online shoppers. Add the bonus of promo codes, discounts or coupons offered online and you’re saving even more. Particularly if you have a big purchase planned, make sure to search the Internet for deals before buying.